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Feature

Flood damage extensive; St. Edward hardest hit

This photo, provided by Nathan Olson of Albion, gives a concept of the flooding along the Beaver River last Wednesday, March 13. The picture was taken from a hill on the Dan Olson property, northeast of Albion. The scene includes the area known as “the canyons” and provides a concept of how wide the flood aera was before the Beaver began to recede on Thursday. The Cargill elevator and Valero ethanol plant can be seen in the background.

St. Edward was the hardest hit community, but many people in Boone County felt the wrath of Mother Nature in flood damage last week.
The flooding began Wednesday, March 13, and continued into Thursday along the Beaver River, Cedar River and Shell Creek.
In St. Edward, the vast majority of businesses and homes in the west portion of town were inundated by flood waters Wednesday afternoon and evening.
Firemen and volunteers were placing sandbags along homes and businesses by early afternoon Wednesday, but it wasn’t enough to keep out the rushing river this time.
Rapid melting of snow, coupled with varying rainfall amounts, triggered the local flooding.
In all, approximately 165 individuals were displaced in St. Edward, while 83 residences and 31 businesses were flooded, according to Sarah Forinash, local emergency manager.
At 2:57 p.m., St. Edward Fire Chief Gary Thompson notified the Boone County Sheriff’s office that water had crested the Beaver Creek bridge on Highway 39 and traffic was stopped.
Evacuation efforts in St. Edward began at 4:11 p.m. and continued until 8:35 p.m. Wednesday, when it was determined that all affected households had been contacted and were either relocated to the fire station or had chosen to shelter in place.
The fire department was called to evacuate 15 households in St. Edward, but other residents contacted fire & rescue personnel in person and were brought to safety.
Firemen used a 6×6 military style truck, payloaders and various watercraft to make the rescues.
Some clean-up and basement pumping was beginning in St. Edward Thursday, although water levels remained high. Many basements were completely filled with water.
At one point on Friday morning, it appeared that the levee had breached at St. Edward, but the levee was stabilized, a storm sewer drain was cleared, and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency dive team assisted city personnel in resetting a lift station, which allowed the water to recede.
Crews from Loup Public Power and Cornhusker Public Power worked diligently to maintain electrical service to St. Edward despite flood damage to the Loup substation on the south edge of town.
As the water receded Friday, flood damage became apparent. In some cases, basement walls and portions of foundations were washed away.
Business people and home owners in St. Edward continued to clean out flood debris and damaged belongings through the weekend.
A boil order was in place for all city drinking water in St. Edward through the weekend, until water samples could be analyzed on Monday.
Mayor Marvin Haas said the depth of flood waters was the worst since 1966, and structural damage was apparent in a number of buildings.
“I don’t know how many of those houses or structures will still be useable after we do our assessments,” Haas said.
He and other local officials in St. Edward expressed appreciation for the assistance of first responders and volunteers who were helping in the community throughout the week.
St. Edward Fire Station was the headquarers for emergency personnel and volunteers, and an estimated 1,000 donated meals were served to workers there from Wednesday night through Sunday. The fire hall, St. Edward Catholic Church and Cloverlodge served as emergency shelters for those displaced by the flood.
City personnel and volunteers have been working long hours since Wednesday and maintained staffing at the fire hall through the weekend. St. Edward Public Schools released students on Wednesday to help with sandbagging. School remained closed through Friday, but classes were back in session Monday, March 18.

Read the complete story in the March 20 issue of the Albion News print and e-editions.